If you live in a major city like New York, and you use public transit on a regular basis, you know how important it is to get around efficiently. Unfortunately, the same risks that come with driving a car also exist with public transportation.
Accidents are always a possibility whenever you’re in any type of vehicle. Fortunately, most train accidents tend to be non-fatal or involve minor injuries at worst. Nevertheless, they can still be extremely frightening and result in lasting physical and emotional trauma if not handled properly from a legal standpoint.
If you were injured in an accident involving a train, here’s what you need to know about your rights.
Initial Steps After a Train Accident
The first step in your legal process will be to contact the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and/or the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).
The NTSB will conduct an independent investigation and gather data related to your accident. This will include soil and weather conditions, maintenance records, and the position and condition of any obstacles in the vicinity of the accident.
If you are interviewed by an NTSB agent, you should be as thorough as possible in your recollection of the accident.
Legal Rights If You’re Injured in a Train Accident
Most train accidents are governed by the Federal Railways Safety Act. Any lawsuit related to a train accident will be subject to the provisions of this act. This act contains a statute of limitations that mandates when you must file a lawsuit related to your injuries.
This can vary between one and two years after the accident. You will also be subject to strict liability, meaning that you don’t need to prove that the train’s operator was negligent.
Instead, you must only prove that you were injured as a result of the train being operated on a public railway. This can include passengers, pedestrians, or even occupants of automobiles that were struck by the train.
Decide on Legal Action: What to do next?
If you’ve been injured in a train accident and believe that someone else is responsible for your injuries, you’ll need to file a lawsuit.
You can choose to file a personal injury lawsuit against the railroad that owns the track on which the train was traveling. The lawsuit will request an award for damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Depending on the jurisdiction in which you were injured, you will likely have a certain amount of time to file a lawsuit. If you fail to take action before the statute of limitations expires, you will permanently lose your right to seek compensation for your injuries.
Finding a Qualified Train Accident Attorney
Finding the right attorney can be a challenge. You will want to make sure that you find someone with expertise in the area of train accidents. Ideally, you want to find a lawyer for train accidents in NYC and/or an attorney who has substantial experience in this type of litigation.
The best way to find an attorney is to ask friends, family members, and neighbors for recommendations. If you’re unable to find an attorney through this method, there are other options. You can also seek out attorneys at local law schools. You can also find attorneys at a legal aid office.
Why Filing a Lawsuit May Be Your Only Recourse?
Depending on the circumstances of your accident, you may not have any other options outside of filing a lawsuit.
If you’re not sure if you’re eligible for compensation from the FRA or other state-run programs, you need to act quickly. These agencies are notorious for denying claims related to train accidents.
They’re often heavy-handed in their approach and may deny you compensation even if you were clearly injured as a result of another person’s negligence.
One possible way you could win in court is by telling the truth about exactly how it happened, and being very firm in the way you describe it. Be concise, precise, and as detailed as possible without sounding too over the top.
Train accidents can be extremely scary and stressful, especially if you’ve been injured. The best way to protect your rights is to understand the legal process and know what to expect.
The first step is to contact the NTSB and/or the FRA and thoroughly recount the events of your accident.
If you believe that you’re entitled to compensation for your injuries, you must file a lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires. You should also be as thorough as possible when hiring an attorney to represent you in court.